When Halloween slips around, you have tons of choices for hosting a retro-themed scare-a-thon on your big screen. It’s easy to dive straight into the likes of Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2, or even Friday the 13th. Formerly obscure titles like Run Like Hell for Xbox/PS2 and Clock Tower for the PS1 have been around long enough to catch the attention of many retro gamers as well. So let’s do something different this year. Let’s talk about some of the black sheep of horror gaming, the lesser-known and lesser-appreciated titles from the past. Set aside your knife glove, take off the goalie mask, and let one of these games dick-punch away your sanity for an evening. Our topic today is the 8-bit shoot ’em up Abadox for the NES.
Abadox: The Deadly Inner War (1990, NES)
It would be easy to write Abadox off as just another Gradius clone, and in a sense you’d be correct. Both games are about blowing up aliens, dodging bullets, and pancaking yourself into the scenery. Abadox goes a bit against type by featuring vertical as well as horizontal stages, but Konami did the same with Life Force so it’s not like this is unique. So why talk about Natsume’s 1990 shooter for this feature? Abadox tasks you with murdering your alien opponent from the inside.
Subtitled “The Deadly Inner War”, this 8-bit blast-a-thon sends one suicidal dude in power armor to nuke a planet-sized monstrosity called Parasitus. It’s outer layers are too tough to scratch with even your most powerful projectiles, so the plan is to Fantastic Voyage yourself into its mouth and fry every internal organ from throat to gonads until it either digests you or dies in thrashing agony. Oh, and rescue the princess while you’re at it, because Parasitus swallowed her too and every game needs a princess to rescue, so why not? Nintendo, despite a reputation for squeaky-clean all-ages fun, was surprisingly cool with this extended Fatality sequence/Gradius mashup.
While far from the bloodiest game you could throw in this season, Abadox is absolutely a solid addition to a Halloween game-a-thon. Like most horror film antagonists, it will crush you into meaty hamburger without remorse. This one barely missed making the list in our Fifteen Hardest NES Games feature despite a ruinous penalty of completely de-powering you should you so much as graze a bullet. If this game pisses you off too badly, go ahead and click on the title up there to watch a tool-assisted speedrun where runner NecroVMX completely humiliates the game by weaving in, out, and around enemies, projectiles, and everything else without dying or grabbing any power-ups except for speed boosts. It’ll put a smile on your face as big as finding full-sized candy bars in your trick-or-treat bag. Much like Halloween candy though, biting off too much in Abadox is a recipe for a digestive nightmare you’ll moan about for days.